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Hannah Aylward ’19 finds Internet fame in interabled relationship advocacy

Most Carleton seniors would consider a regular Carleton workload, varsity sports and Comps to be a pretty hefty workload. Hannah Aylward ’19, however, juggles all this while also running a successful Youtube channel (called “Squirmy and Grubs”) with her boyfriend, Shane, and working on advocacy projects regarding their inter-abled relationship. 

Shane uses a wheelchair and Hannah doesn’t which has drawn the couple lots of media attention since they began dating in 2015. Aylward has harnessed this attention as an opportunity to educate others and advocate for interabled relationships, and since the advent of her Youtube channel, her and Shane’s popularity has skyrocketed. With over 10K Instagram followers, almost 400K YouTube subscribers, and a recent appearance on Good Morning America, Aylward is on the up and up. The Carletonian had the pleasure to ask Aylward some questions about her busy schedule as a Carleton student and influencer.

1. How do you balance a Carleton workload and being a student athlete with your social life and YouTube channel?

Balancing all of these responsibilities is definitely a difficult task. It really comes down to time management and planning ahead. 

Shane is meticulously organized, which I tease him about, but it really helps us to stay on track. Swimming has also taught me great time management skills, which have been especially helpful this past year as things have gotten busier. 

2. Your SOAN comps was about perceptions of disability. How have you been able to integrate your YouTube and advocacy work into your life at Carleton?

The fact that I’m a SOAN major makes it easy to integrate advocacy and disability into my studies! Sociology is all about studying groups of people, especially people who are marginalized or discriminated against, so my comps was a perfect fit. 

3. Has your time, classes, professors, or classmates at Carleton influenced any of the current advocacy work you’re doing?

My sociology classes and professors provided me with a framework for understanding society and discrimination that I didn’t have before coming to Carleton. This understanding was crucial for learning about ableism and the misconceptions of disability that exist in our society. My comps was especially influential in the advocacy work I’m doing now, and for that I have to thank my advisor, Annette Nierobisz, and the rest of the SOAN professors who supported me through the process. 

4. How has your YouTube channel changed your time at Carleton? What in your life changed since the growth of the channel and with the advocacy you do?

Not much in my life has changed since starting the YouTube channel. Filming videos and doing everything else involved in the channel does take a significant amount of time. My friends also love to tease me about things they’ve seen in videos. Other than that, everything is pretty much the same!

5. You’ve probably been getting this question a lot but what are your plans post-graduation?

Shane and I will be doing a lot of traveling in the upcoming year for a project that I can’t talk publicly about yet! It’s disability advocacy related and we’re both really excited about it. As of now, I’m also planning on probably going to graduate school for sociology or disability studies, but not for at least a year.

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